Honor Credit Union sponsors admission for Holy Maternity Church festival

DOWAGIAC — In an effort to energize the parish, Holy Maternity of Mary Church in Dowagiac will host a fall festival this month, with the first 150 children gaining free admission sponsored by Honor Credit Union.

Holy Maternity of Mary Church, 210 N. Front St., will host a fall festival at the church from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. The festival, which is open to the public, will have food available for sale with proceeds going to help offset the cost of the church’s new roof.

“Fall is an awesome time of year, and we wanted to plan something to excite the kids,” Patti Mather, the parish manager and secretary said. “We decided why just keep it in the parish? Why not just open it up to the public? We are right in the middle of town.”

The event will also serve as a way for the church’s new priest, Father Russel Homic, to also meet community members. Homic moved to the area in July from South Dakota, where he was a priest at three rural parishes. Now, Homic is a priest at Holy Maternity of Mary, Sacred Heart of Mary in Sister Lakes and Holy Family in Decatur.

“Part of rural life, there isn’t always a lot of things going on directly in town,” Homic said. “So, we would create events where people can enjoy themselves.”

Mather and her daughter, Allycia Rudlaff, who is the bookkeeper for the church, have been brainstorming for the past month ideas for family friendly activities to be hosted at the event.

They have settled on a corn hole, relay races, spooky tattoos, ring toss, a bounce house, bean bag toss, photo booth, pumpkin patch and a game called, “buried treasure.”

“We are hoping for well over 150 kids and adults too,” Rudlaff said, adding that Holy Maternity of Mary alone has more than 400 parishioners. 

The Knights of Columbus will be at the event selling popcorn, and the parish’s women’s group, Hope and Love Outreach, will be hosting a game.

The parish has a list of volunteers, including 14 youth volunteers and another 20 parishioners, committed to helping with the day’s events, Mather said. 

Honor Credit Union, which has agreed to sponsor the admission for the first 150 children, got involved after Mather told Janie Reifenberg, the community administrative vice president at Honor Credit Union, about the event.

“I thought, ‘Wow somebody’s put a lot of time and great energy in this,’” Reifenberg said. “I saw the part that there was going to be small fee and thought, ‘that’s something we can help out with at Honor Credit Union.’”

Before Honor Credit Union agreed to help with the sponsorship, the admission fee was $2.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot, but to some families that have five kids, we lose some of the people who want to attend,” Reifenberg said. “I see the events that we do in town without a cost are widely attended.”

Reifenberg said Honor Credit Union is big on supporting the local community in Dowagiac.

“I wanted to lend a helping hand, support the parish and support the children,” she said.

As the ideas have been snowballing, Rudlaff said the church is hoping to make the fall festival an annual event.

“This is exactly what we love to wrap our arms around,” Reifenberg said.

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